Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Bridge Worth A Story

Abegweit Passage of Northumberland Strait (46.199795, -63.766816)

The Confederation Bridge (French: Pont de la Confédération) is a bridge spanning the Abegweit Passage of Northumberland Strait, linking Prince Edward Island with mainland New Brunswick, Canada. It was commonly referred to as the "Fixed Link" by residents of Prince Edward Island prior to its official naming. Construction took place from the autumn of 1993 to the spring of 1997, costing C$1.3 billion. The 12.9-kilometre (8 mi) long bridge opened on 31 May 1997.

The following are highlights from an extensive article about the bridge on Wikipedia.

The bridge is a two-lane highway toll bridge that carries the Trans-Canada Highway between Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island (at Route 1) and Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick (at Route 16). It is a multi-span beam bridge with a post-tensioned concrete box girder structure. Most of the curved bridge is 40 metres (131 ft) above water, and it contains a 60 m (197 ft) high navigation span to permit ship traffic. The bridge rests on 62 piers, of which the 44 main piers are 250 m (820 ft) apart. The bridge is 11 m (36 ft) wide. The speed limit on the bridge is 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph). It takes about 12 minutes to cross the bridge.

The construction, which was carried out by a construction joint venture of Ballast Nedam, GTMI (Canada), Northern Construction and Straight Crossing Inc., started in the fall of 1993, beginning with preparation of staging facilities. Bridge components were built year-round from 1994 to summer of 1996, and placement of components began in fall 1994 until fall 1996. Approach roads, toll plazas and final work on the structure continued until the spring of 1997, at an estimated total cost of $1 billion.

All bridge components were constructed on land, in purpose-built staging yards located on the shoreline at Amherst Head, fronting on Borden Harbour just east of the town and ferry docks, and an inland facility located at Bayfield, New Brunswick. The Amherst Head staging facility was where all large components were built, including the pier bases, ice shields, main spans, and drop-in spans. The Bayfield facility was used to construct components for the near-shore bridges which were linked using a launching truss extending over shallow waters almost 2 km (1.2 mi) from the New Brunswick shore, and .5 km (0.3 mi) from the Prince Edward Island shore.

Since the Island-coined nickname "Fixed Link" was not considered appropriate, and the federal government-coined project name "Northumberland Strait Crossing Project" was deemed awkward, there was a need for a formal name for the structure. Throughout construction, the federal government received suggestions for names and on September 27, 1996, the name "Confederation Bridge" was chosen.

This name is not without controversy. However, at a time when national unity had just been challenged in the razor-thin results of the 1995 Quebec referendum, the federal government opted for a bilingually appropriate and nationally accepted, politically correct name for Canada's longest bridge connecting the mainland portion of the country to the province where the first meetings at the Charlottetown Conference in September 1864 led to the Confederation of British North America.

Learn More
There is a lot more information about the technical aspects of construction as well as the financial, political, and economic impact of the bridge available on the web. Start with Wikipedia